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Know the Laws: Michigan

UPDATED October 27, 2016

Basic information about divorce in Michigan.

back to topWhat are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Michigan?

To be granted a divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days immediately before filing your complaint for divorce.  In addition, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where the complaint is filed for 10 days immediately before filing.*  If you or your spouse has not lived in the county that you are filing in for at least 10 days, you can still file for divorce in that county (or in any county) if all of the following are true:

  1. your spouse was born in, or is a citizen of, a country other than the United States;
  2. you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old; and
  3. the judge believes that your child is at risk of being taken out of the United States by your spouse and held in another country.**

* M.C.L.A. § 552.9(1)
** M.C.L.A. § 552.9(2)

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back to topWhat are the grounds for divorce in Michigan?

Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce.  Under Michigan law, a complaint for divorce can be filed (in circuit court) only based on what is commonly known as an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” To file for divorce, your complaint must state that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”  You do not need to give an explanation in your complaint other than using the language in the law stated above.* 

Your spouse can submit an answer and can agree (admit the grounds) or disagree (deny the grounds) without including an explanation.  The judge will consider your spouse’s admission of the grounds for divorce, but his/her admission is not binding on the judge’s decision.**

If the judge decides (based on evidence presented in court) that your marriage has suffered a breakdown to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed, and there is no likelihood that your marriage can be repaired, the judge will grant you a divorce.***

* M.C.L.A. § 552.6(1)
** M.C.L.A. § 552.6(2)
*** M.C.L.A. § 552.6(3)

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back to topCan I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?

Alimony (also known as spousal support) is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse.  In Michigan, if the property awarded to you through your divorce or through a separate maintenance order is not enough to support you or any children of the marriage in your custody, the judge may order your spouse to pay you spousal support.  The judge will consider the ability of your spouse to pay and will also consider the character, situations, and circumstances of you and your spouse when deciding what amount of support is fair and reasonable.*

The judge may award you support if it is necessary to help you keep your property and help you continue or defend your action for divorce.  The judge may order your spouse to pay your court fees or the fees may be paid from your spouse’s property.  Your alimony may stop if you remarry unless you have an agreement that says otherwise included in your divorce decree.  If the judge ends your support, it will not affect the payments that have accrued (are owed to you) before the judge terminated (cancelled) your order.**

* M.C.L.A. § 552.23(1)
** M.C.L.A. § 552.13

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back to topWhere can I find additional information about divorce laws in Michigan?

Michiganlegalhelp.org provides information on divorce, including:

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organization and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information on their website.

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